John Adams, Minna
Niger State government has cleared the air on the controversy surrendering the $181 million Islamic Development Bank (IDB), saying that all formalities towards securing the loan had been concluded, but the government is yet to access the money.
Former governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu claimed that he sought for and got approval for the loan while in office but the money did not hit the state government account before he left office.
But in a statement in Minna on Monday by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mary Noel Berge the government said it was actually Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello who sought for the loan from the Islamic Development Bank after securing the nod of the National Assembly.
According to the statement, the request for the loan was only transmitted on 26th July 2017, but the request was not granted until May this year, stressing that “the process of securing the loan has been completed at the National Assembly but the money has not hit the state’s account.”
The former Niger State governor had during a PDP rally in Minna on Saturday told the large crowd of party supporters that, he secured the approval for the said loan but the physical money was given to his successor after he left office.
But the chief press secretary insisted that “the IDB loan was approved by the National Assembly in May this year but the money has not been accessed by the state government.”
She stated further that the 8th Senate on 28th May 2019 received and considered the report tagged “Report of the committee on local and foreign debt, Niger State’s development policy operation credit from world bank and Islamic Development Bank,” and approval for the loan was granted.
“Based on the report of the committee headed by Senator Shehu Sani then the Senate looked into it and considered it, and thereby gave the state government the backing to access the loan for its viability but the government has not received the money.”
She also maintained that records were there to show that the 8th House of Representatives at its 147th sitting, highlighted borrowing request for Niger State under 2016-2018 external borrowing (roiling ) plan, the request was considered and approval was given on 23th May 2019 by the House of Representative and wondered where the former governor secured his own approval from.
Mrs Berje, however, assured that the state government was in the process of securing the loan to dualise Minna-Bida road, adding that work on the road will start immediately the money hits the state account.
According to her, the state government has been open on the issue of the IDB loan because the concept of the loan was made public and had been in public domain
She explained that “the initial concept of the loan and the project to be carried out was passed to the National Assembly by the Federal Executive Council for inclusion in the national borrowing plan; thereafter a consultant was engaged to assess what was required,so there is no way that money will be ready and work will not start on the Minna-Bida road.
“The consultant provided us with the following components, the dualisation of Bida-Minna road of about 82 kilometers, making it 164 kilometres with other facilities, because the road was constructed in the early eighties and needs total reconstruction,” Berje added.